Vernonia Elaeagnifolia: Curtain creeper

Family: Asteraceae
Common name: Curtain creeper, Vernonia creeper, Parda bel, Parda vine, Bombay creeper, Privacy vine

Curtain creeper vines falling over walls, terrace areas, trellises or simple supporting structures can make your garden very unique. They can be used as curtains to separate certain areas or to give them some privacy.

These evergreen plants can grow as small bushes falling along the edges of pots or baskets. They grow very quickly and can climb on trellises or surrounding vegetation growing to a height of 8-10 meters, falling in beautiful green curtains all around the trees or supporting structures.

Curtain creepers can be pruned into desired shapes to make a canopy or tent of hanging vines that provide greenery and shade. Leaves are simple, green, alternate, lightly toothed along the margins, and about 4-6 cms long.

Over a period of time, the lower end of the stem becomes thick, woody, and fissured but smaller stems stay silver-white and tender. It is a preferred plant in tropical gardens, parks, and landscaped areas because of the ease of growth, propagation, and maintenance; and also the unique shapes that it forms while draping on supporting structures.

Though the plant produces white flowers during the flowering season, Curtain creepers are mostly grown as an ornamental plant for their foliage and draping vines. Flowers are mostly characterless, dirty white, about 1 cm in diameter, growing in large bunches covering the plant. Flowers grow from the axils, the angle between the leaves and the stem.

The name Elaeagnifolia stands for ‘resembling Elaeagnus’ or olive plants; and the name Vernonia is in honor of William Vernon, an English botanist. They do best in bright sunlight but can stand partial shade as well. Curtain creepers are tolerant of drought, pollution, salinity, extreme weather conditions, and poor soil.

They can be grown almost anywhere, and ignored for days on end without any consequence. Once the plant is established in the soil, it should be tied to supporting structures to help them grow. The stem does not have tendrils or roots to help them climb, and so the initial few vines have to be tied on the supporting poles.

Propagation can be done very easily through stem cuttings. It is a good idea to push a long stem into a flowering pot while it’s still connected to the parent plant after removing the leaves from that portion of the stem. Once it touches the soil, the stem will produce roots at the nodes. After producing roots, the stem can be cut and replanted.